Stress Fractures Got You Stressed? Cryotherapy to the Rescue!
By Joy Stephenson-Laws, JD, Founder
If you’ve ever broken a bone, you know how painful it can be as well as how taxing the recovery can be.
“Made mostly of collagen, bone is living, growing tissue. Collagen is a protein that provides a soft framework, and calcium phosphate is a mineral that adds strength and hardens the framework. This combination of collagen and calcium makes bone strong and flexible enough to withstand stress. More than 99 percent of the body's calcium is contained in the bones and teeth. The remaining 1 percent is found in the blood,” according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH).
And if more pressure (stress) is put on a bone than it can handle, it will break. Some breaks are larger than others, but any kind of break of a bone is called a fracture. Examples of different types of fractures are:
- Open (compound) fracture, when the broken bone punctures the skin (ouch!).
- Stress fracture, a small crack in the bone or really bad bruising within a bone due to repetitive activity and overuse. These fractures usually occur in the foot or ankle and are commonly seen in runners and other athletes. NBA player Frank Kaminsky was recently forced out of the game due to battling a stress fracture. (Having osteoporosis also puts you at an increased risk of developing stress fractures).
- Jones fracture, this fracture can be a stress fracture or a sudden break due to trauma. This fracture occurs in an area of the foot called the fifth metatarsal (which is the long bone located on the outer part of the foot that connects to the little toe). (Being overweight or obese increases the risk of having a Jones fracture).
To learn about additional types of fractures, read here.
Standard treatment for broken bones.
Depending on the severity and type of break, you may need surgery and/or have to wear a cast.
“A plaster or fiberglass cast is the most common type of fracture treatment, because most broken bones can heal successfully once they have been repositioned and a cast has been applied to keep the broken ends in proper position while they heal,” according to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS).
As far as stress fractures are concerned, not all of them require surgery. It really depends on the severity and location of the fracture. The AAOS reports that the majority of stress fractures are treated nonsurgically.
So nonsurgical treatment may include something the AAOS likes to call “R.I.C.E.”
This stands for:
- Rest. Avoiding activities that put weight on the foot with the fracture.
- Ice. Applying ice immediately after the injury in order to combat swelling.
- Compression. Wrapping the foot or ankle with a soft bandage.
- Elevation. Resting with the foot elevated above the heart.
These are pretty basic remedies for a stress fracture. And if you don’t need surgery, your doctor may ask you to use crutches, wear protective footwear or a cast and continue to avoid strenuous activity.
Well, the truth is that none of us want to be told that we can’t workout like we want to or do the activities we enjoy. Broken bones are really a downer, and I’m all for anything that can help speed up the recovery process.
This is where cryotherapy may come into play.
To say that cryotherapy (a form of cold therapy) is big right now is an understatement.
The theory behind cryotherapy is that freezing temperatures experienced by your body sends signals to the brain which in turn triggers an emergency or survival mode. This causes the body to constrict the blood flow in the outer layers and send the blood supply to the innermost vital organs. While in this “emergency survival mode,” all of the body’s resources are activated.
The body’s ability to self heal is enhanced because your blood is being enriched with additional oxygen, hormones, enzymes and nutrients - all of which are needed to survive under the extreme “emergency” created by the cryotherapy. Once you leave the cold environment, the newly enriched and less-toxic blood is flushed back into the rest of the body.
Benefits of cryotherapy may include:
- Quick recovery from sports related injuries
- Relief from chronic pain caused by ailments like rheumatoid arthritis
- Better management of fibromyalgia
- Improved overall performance in athletes
- Weight loss
- Less stress, better mood and reduced anxiety
So in theory it makes sense that cryotherapy could help with certain fractures.
According to a recent study in the Journal of Trauma & Treatment, a 49-year-old woman who suffered from a Jones fracture underwent cryotherapy and had “excellent clinical and functional” results, according to the study report.
“Three days after the fracture, the therapist started conservative treatment mainly using cryotherapy for the lesion part for 15 min thrice every day…”
Furthermore, 15 days after cryotherapy treatment the woman had no pain with normal walking, was able to bear down with her full weight and her ankle had a full range of motion. She also had no muscle atrophy. Twenty-four days later she could do mild running and go up and down the stairs.
Stress fractures can take up to six to eight weeks to heal, so such a vast improvement after 15 and then 24 days is quite impressive.
So if you suffer from stress fractures, you might want to consider cryotherapy.
I am so happy to announce that we are now able to provide cryotherapy related services at our Sherman Oaks location with the help of Chiltonic. If you are in the Sherman Oaks area, stop by for an evaluation. And if you are in the San Diego area, visit us at Chiltonic in Encinitas and La Jolla for more information about amazing services such as the CryoT-Shock.
Check out this review for Chilltonic.
“I started getting cryotherapy in 2017 after years of endless injuries, shin splints, and stress fractures. Since doing cryotherapy consistently, I have been injury free- not a single injury or time off working out. I associate it all to the benefits of cryotherapy. Everything is better with cryo.”
And finally, we have to be proactive about maintaining the health of our bones in order to reduce the risk of fractures. You can do this by following a healthy diet with bone-boosting nutrients.
Enjoy your healthy life!
The pH professional health care team includes recognized experts from a variety of health care and related disciplines, including physicians, attorneys, nutritionists, nurses and certified fitness instructors. This team also includes the members of the pH Medical Advisory Board, which constantly monitors all pH programs, products and services. To learn more about the pH Medical Advisory Board, click here.